Grave Mercy

Title: Grave Mercy (Book 1 in His Fair Assassin)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Ebook ARC

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Love Love Love LOVE this book!! It read like an historical fiction novel, and I didn’t even know it was until after I finished it! The characters were all perfect – from Anne to Ismae to Duval (extra love for Duval), they were brought to life again (well, except for Duval, I suppose – see Author’s note – contains spoilers); they were all completely realistic, and with of course a hint of fantasy/supernatural with the gods of old. I loved the convent of St. Mortain – seeing Ismae being rescued from her horrible fate via her own father, but then the drastic change that came over her, I couldn’t help but pity her and admire her at the same time. Her strength was amazing, but the fact that she loses all independence and becomes completely besotted with the convent because she was blinded by their rescue of her was so sad.

I also can’t believe the detail. Everything was so precise – there wasn’t a lot wasted on imagery, which was good – the book was very long (but soooooo worth it!), and didn’t need the extra descriptions. The personalities of the people came across through their actions, expressions, small movements, the slightest frown or softest sigh. I loved how everything came together, and how, at the end, Ismae truly grew and changed. Her heart was strengthened, to say the least, and that’s really all I can say without spoiling it!

Despite the seriousness of the entire situations, there were quite a few chapters where I couldn’t keep a smile off my face. There were some things I totally saw before the characters even suspected, and then there were dire twists and random surprises just to keep me guessing. But the romance? So sweet! I mean, I guess you can already tell, but I LOVE Duval and Ismae – they are so PERFECT for each other. I honestly want a book dedicated to just their lives together after that, because even though the end was good, it was so shaky and I wasn’t completely sure about anything. There were times where I thought LaFevers was going to kill off really important characters, and then there were certain times where I she killed them abruptly and I almost cried. Seriously, it’s such an emotional roller coaster. I LOVED it (clearly, you’re not getting it – LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE) this book. If I did a rating system it would be the highest on there – the only drawback was that it was long and I didn’t have time to read it all the way through in one shot! And if after all this you haven’t gone to pre-order this book, you really don’t understand the definition of LOVE!!!!!

~Yours Truly

Pure

Title: Pure (Book 1 of Pure)
Author: Julianna Baggott
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Release Date: February 8, 2012

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

The secrets, the lies, the intrigue and the complete and utter destruction, but not utterly destroyed because there’s still life forms, despite their sometimes horrendous and truly grievous mutations. This book was instantly captivating, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Everything you could want in a book was there except for magic, and who’s to say some of the emotions and acts of bravery aren’t magical? The book was so unique – it’s actually one of the only apocalypse stories I’ve read. I was so immersed in every aspect of the book – characters, relationships, plot, the whole shebang.

The main characters? Great. Love Love LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!! I think I might love them a little. With the third person point of view, each chapter from a different perspective, I wasn’t confused AT ALL. There was seamless fluidity between how each character thought. And because it was third person, there were scenes that just can’t be shown from a first person POV. Each of the people were so unique – Pressia and her doll hand and her insecurity and how she changes with every new obstacle that she endures; Partridge with his newfound knowledge of the world outside the Dome and the naivety yet determination he shows in confronting obstacles; El Capitan and Helmund, each with their own very personal problem, but then the combination of love and thorough hatred that is revealed; Lyda and Bradwell, different in their own ways but learning the power of love.

That was one of the best parts of the book – learning to love in a place where one’s mentality is “It’s easier to survive alone” or in a place where the only thoughts going through some people’s minds have literally been imprinted into their brains, and then the other half of the population is controlled by their husbands. The book combines so many different ideas – feminism and yet patriarchal societies where females only appear to have limited rights, if that; apocalyptic/dystopian aspects of both totally different environments; the several different romances; the (some-what screwed up) family dynamics; and the action and violence, plus whatever I’ve missed. It’s pretty perfect – everything sort of balances the book out and works with the plot to create a book that you can’t look away from.

I loved how the two worlds were imagined and how they merged in ways that I couldn’t have thought possible while I was reading, and even the history that was also entwined in the story came together in the dialogue and the scheming of the characters. The thrill and suspense throughout the book had me practically screaming in class while I was reading – I couldn’t focus on anything except possiblilities of what could happen next when I wasn’t reading. I am sooooo happy with this book – I HIGHLY recommend it – to EVERYONE above the age of 14. It was cute, it was exciting, it was downright scary at a couple points, and I LOVE IT!!

Well? Go get reading!

~Yours Truly

**There were some grotesque descriptions, violence, and semi-pyschotic characters.

Blog Tour: Blind Sight (Adult)

Title: Blind Sight (Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson)
Author: Eliabeth Hawthorne
Publisher: Self-Published through Ermilia LLC
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Ebook ARC

A blind girl drawing is abnormal even on the magical island of Edaion where leaves brush themselves into piles in the middle of the night. As an immigrant, Leocardo is not biased by accepted rules of magic and determines that Odette’s drawings are premonitions. Aniela grew up with magic and knows premonitions are impossible. She determines Odette is a medium channeling voiceless spirits. Whose eyes will you read through?

Both books are “volume one” you can read one without the other and still get a complete story, but you won’t see how the characters interpret the same situation differently.


In this volume: While Aniela tries to escape a lifestyle where obligations take priority over friendships, she befriends Odette, a blind girl with the ability to draw. Almost immediately, concerns and questions arise as Aniela suspects that Odette’s gift is far stronger than any seen before.  In the middle of family turmoil and a complicated romantic relationship with Odette’s brother, Aniela faces the realization that helping her comatose friend means disobeying her mother, something she has never done before.

First of all, this book is an adult book, but it’s not necessarily just for adult readers. There is very little foul language (and what little is present is confined to one character), it’s simply that some of the concepts are more for older readers. However, I would recommend this book to a lot of my more mature friends who love fantasy books.

I loved the premise of the story, which is pretty much the reason I accepted the invitation to participate in the tour. I don’t usually review adult books, even if I do read them, but the background of the story and the format it came in intrigued me. The two volumes sharing the same story from different points of view, the mystery entwined with a little romance and adventure? Plus, a whole lot of family secrets, from what hints this volume – especially the ending! – gave me. The cover is epic. I love the relevance it has to the story. It’s edged in black, there’s tons of drawings and paper on it, and even the font is captivating.

The writing itself was pretty unique. There was a lot of voice put into the work, but the style of the writing would make it very easy for younger readers to make sense of the book. Despite some eloquence, the writing was very down-to-earth and likeable for that reason. There were some parts that confused me and I had to reread in order to understand it, but for the most part, it was simple. That was enjoyable for me. I didn’t have to really work to read the book because it flowed in a way that lead me from chapter to chapter without me even noticing that I had read that far. I would set a limit for myself, saying “Okay, just one chapter, and then you have to do your homework.” Yeah, needless to say, that didn’t work.

I also enjoyed the unique relationship between each character and how I could decipher each of them simply from Aniela’s point of view. Sometimes the POV changed to slightly more omniscient in order to give more insight since it was written in third person, but for the most part, Aniela’s understanding of her family and of her friends easily told me everything I needed to know about everyone else.

Possibly the only thing I didn’t reallly like about the book was that there were some teasers about family secrets and unknown things in the very beginning that were then forgotten about until the very last chapter. It was a great teaser at the end, which makes me REALLY want to read the sequel, but I felt a little empty after not reading about it at all, almost as though the author forgot about it (which they obviously didn’t, but still).

I still would absolutely love to read the other volume of the book, Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes by Ermisenda Alvarez. I think that it would definitely give more insight into the story than simply reading one volume or the other, although that was okay to do. I think I’ll enjoy the story more if I read both.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book, and I’d recommend it to adults and young adults as well. If you like fantasy (magic, foreign lands, and intense supernatural gifts) then this book was written with you in mind. Well? What are you waiting for!?

You can order the books online at B&N (Aniela/Leocardo) & Amazon (Aniela/Leocardo)***
Check it out on Goodreads (Aniela/Leocardo)
Check it out on Smashwords (Aniela/Leocardo)
Check out Eliabeth and Ermisenda’s blog
Check them out on Facebook (Ermilia/Blind Sight), Twitter (Eliabeth), and Tumblr (Ermisenda)
***Ebooks. The paperback special edition will be available in the fall (northern hemisphere).
About the Authors:
Eliabeth wrote her first mini-series in second grade when the teacher told her she was not old enough to write a chapter book.  Regrettably, for fear of turning into a starving artist, Eliabeth played it safe in college and is now a recent William Jewell graduate with a BA in International Business and Japanese.  She now returns to what she truly loves, creating worlds for people to escape to and characters for them to fall in love with.
Ermisenda began writing Harry Potter fan-fiction at the age of twelve and started developing her own writing at fourteen when she joined play sites and completed her first crime novel at fifteen.  Although her favorite genres were crime and fantasy, she reads a bit of everything. Driven by the desire to evoke the kaleidoscope of emotions her favorite authors are able to, she kept writing. Growing up bilingual amongst her Spanish family in Australia, she found a love and deep appreciation for language and the power it wielded.  She is now a Psychology major at the University of Newcastle.

Together, they write as Ermilia.

Did you enjoy the review?  You could win a gift card and I could win one too!  Just leave a comment about the review below and you’re entered in the drawing.

Paranormalcy

Title: Paranormalcy (Book 1 in Paranormalcy)
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen – HarperCollins
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious phophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destrucion to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

Evie is full of wit. Her fun-loving nature, her original, bubbly self, can’t be contained – the only other way she comes over is as protective or sarcastic because people are dampening her spirit. But when she’s around Lend, her character becomes hopeful, cheery, and nothing can stop her. I love the romance in this book because it’s innocent and true. There’s no need for more, it’s good just the way it is. The two of them complete each other, and it’s pretty perfect. I love the plot, too. The way that Evie is trying to figure out what’s really going on, yet her desire to be normal, conflicts but it’s just who Evie is – there’s no real inner struggle – she does the right thing. I really liked her character because she was sensible. She wasn’t stupid by keeping secrets that would backfire on her in the end; she was truthful and that paid off when she did what she thought was the right thing to do – she wasn’t selfish, but for a moment, and really, who could blame her? The temptations she endured at the end and what actually happened make me love her even more, and I am super excited to see what she and Lend get up to in the next book!

~Yours Truly

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton – Penguin Group, USA
Release Date: September 29, 2011

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Stephanie Perkins has done it again. I fell in love with this book – the unique characters, the family dynamics, the friendship, the romance, and the self-discovery. It was definitely an emotional roller-coaster, and this has just become my favorite contemporary novel. My favorite part was definitely Lola’s family and her own personality. Her dreams to be a designer are completely realistic, and I loved her sense of self, even if she didn’t always realize she had it. Her dads, too, her hilarious. I loved how they both worked together to raise Lola and how the gay parent dynamic was explored. It was interesting to see Lola’s perspective about her dads, too, and on her birth mother. I’d say thatthatpart of the family was just as dysfunctional as every other family in real life. It was great to see it come to life. And then, of course, there’s Max and Cricket. I’m not going to get too into that – it’s way to complicated. I’m just going to say that the ending was sweet, and I can’t wait to see what Stephanie has in store for us next!

~Yours Truly